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Afghanistan in 1396; changes & challenges

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Afghanistan in 1396; changes & challenges
 Declaration of US new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia, joining of Hezb-e-Islamic leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to Afghan-led peace process, leaving of the country’s first vice president for Turkey, increasing tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the issue of Ata Mohammad Noor’s resignation as governor of Balkh, inauguration of practical work on TAPI project, extension of Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railway, signing of agreement for Lazuli transit route, opening of Chabahar port, opening of Kabul – New Delhi air corridor, increasing terrorist and suicide attacks on religious places and others were some key changes that happened in 1396 and are briefed below:
- UN Sanctions Committee called as the United Nations Security Council ISIL (Daesh) and Al-qaeda Sanctions Committee removed the name of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of Hezb-e-Islamic from its sanctions list.
- Afghanistan government submitted a detailed list of 32 terrorist training centers engaged in planning suicide attacks and operations to Islamabad as the biggest group attack launched by Daesh terrorist group on the country’s biggest military hospital Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan where more than 30 people were killed and nearly 50 others were injured.
- Afghanistan government officially complained to the United Nations Security Council against territorial integrity violations by Pakistan as the country continually fired mortar shells landed in some areas in Kunar and Nangarhar.
- Afghanistan was granted permanent membership to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is an international financial organization established based on suggestion of China.
- US military dropped America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb on Daesh targets in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar. Afghan officials said the target was an ISIS cave and tunnel complex and personnel in the Achin district of the province bordering Pakistan.
- An anti-torture commission was formed in Afghanistan. The commission by its 13 members from government and non-government institutions started its work under the chairwomanship of Sima Samar, head of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
- Resignation of Afghanistan minister of national defense Abdullah Habibi and army chief of staff Gen. Qadam Shah Shaheem after group attack of armed Taliban on Shaheen Corps in Mazar-e-Sharif.
- Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of Hezb-e-Islamic Afghanistan returned home after 17 years and appeared in eastern province of Laghman and was welcomed by governor of the province Abdul Jabar Naeemi as representating president. Following peace agreement between Afghanistan government and Hezb-e-Islamic, 55 members of the party were released. 
- A massive explosion in a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul killed at least 150 people and wounded hundreds including women and children. Soon after the explosion, Taliban rejected involvement in the explosion. The attack was the deadliest in Kabul and most of the casualties were expected to be civilians.
- Kabul residents in reaction to increasing insecurities in Afghanistan in particular the massive sewage tanker explosion in the capital demonstrated. During the protest, six protestors were killed and 10 others injured due to firing by security forces.
- Following a range of suicide attacks and explosions killing a large number of civilians, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in a verdict ordered execution of seven members of Taliban and four members of Haqqani Network and an extraordinary session was held under the chairmanship of President Ghani.
- Afghanistan cricket received full membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC) after a unanimous vote at the ICC Full Council meeting.
- Declaration of US new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia by US President Donald Trump. President Donald Trump asserted that hasty withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan would result in reformation of gap of power in the country, adding that the number of US forces would be soon set based on situations.
- As part of US’s support program to the Afghan defense forces, two Black Hawks were handed over to Afghan Air Force in a ceremony held in Kandahar air force with participation of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and NATO general commander Gen. Nicholson.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared that NATO and its allies would be sending in more troops to Afghanistan to tackle what he described as the threats of the Taliban and other terrorist groups. He declared that NATO would increase the number of its troops from 13,000 to 16,000.
- Afghanistan National Directorate of Security (NDS) announced on Dec 5th that a series of joint US-Afghan operations killed a top leader of al-Qaeda network Omar Khatab known as Omar Mansour along with 80 other members.
- Resignation of Ata Mohammad Noor as governor of Balkh was approved by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. A spokesperson to presidential palace Shah Hussain Murtazavi said the resignation was approved and Eng. Mohammad Daud was appointed as new governor of Balkh. The issue of Ata Mohammad Noor’s resignation has raised tensions between Afghanistan officials during the past year.
- The most significant and development changes were the inauguration of the implementation of work on TAPI project in Herat, extension of Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railway, signing of agreement for Lazuli transit route, opening of Chabahar port, opening of Kabul – New Delhi air corridor and others. Afghanistan ministry of foreign affairs says economic cooperation between various regional countries were in top diplomatic priorities of Afghanistan government in 2017.